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Current Affairs Today April 13 2018

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Union Government to constitute Task Force for fast-tracking Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Technology
On 12th April 2018, Union government announced the formation of a 13-member task force, to develop a roadmap for the implementation of unmanned aerial vehicle technology.
Task Force for fast-tracking Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Technology:
i. The Task Force is headed by Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha. The task force will develop a roadmap with implementable recommendations for central and state governments, industry and research institutions.
ii. It will also focus on research and development, acquisition and commercialisation, application and adoption in specific sectors, the regulatory framework and preference for Make in India.
iii. Task force will consist of:

  • Rajiv Nayan Choubey, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation
  • Rajiv Gauba, Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Sanjay Mitra, Secretary, Department of Defence
  • Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion
  • Lt Gen Satish Dua, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff
  • Dr A.P. Maheshwari, Director General, Bureau of Police Research and Development
  • B.S. Bhullar, Director General, Directorate General of Civil Aviation
  • Dr. S Christopher, Chairman and Secretary, Defence Research & Development    Organisation
  • Dr Girish Sahni, Director General and Secretary, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research
  • Dr. Guruprasad Mohapatra, Chairman, Airports Authority of India
  • A K Ghosh, HoD, Aerospace Engg. Dept., IIT Kanpur
  • Satyendra Kumar Mishra, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation – Member Secretary

iv. Apart from this, 20 industry experts will be co-opted as special invitees to the task force on need basis.
Some important dams in India:
♦ Tehri Dam – Bhagirathi River
♦ Lakhwar Dam – Yamuna River
♦ Idukki Dam – Periyar River

NHAI signs agreement for its first International project under IMT Trilateral Highway
On 11th April 2018, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) signed an agreement for its first international project as part of the India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) Trilateral Highway.
NHAI signs agreement for its first International project under IMT Trilateral HighwayNHAI signs agreement for its first International project under IMT Trilateral Highway:
i. NHAI has signed an agreement with Punj Lloyd Ltd – Varaha Infra Ltd joint venture for upgradation of Yagyi – Kalewa section in Myanmar to Two Lane with Earthen Shoulder.
ii. India, Thailand and Myanmar are working on the 1,400 km long highway. The highway will enhance trade, business, health, education and tourism ties between the three countries.
iii. The project is funded by Ministry of External Affairs, India. It will be executed on EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) method. The estimated cost for the project is Rs 1,177 crore.
iv. Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari recently said that the IMT Trilateral Highway would become operational by December 2019.
v. Work planned under the project are: 3 new major bridges, repair and strengthening of 4 existing major bridges, 2 new minor bridges, reconstruction of 6 existing minor bridges, repair and strengthening of 9 existing minor bridges, reconstruction of 226 existing culverts, 20 bus bays and passenger shelters and 1 rest area.
About National Highways Authority of India (NHAI):
♦ Chairman – Deepak Kumar
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi

Haryana Cabinet approves new rehabilitation policy for slum dwellers
Haryana State Government has approved the slum-in-situ rehabilitation policy in line with Housing for All-2018, under which, urban slum dwellers on Government land will be provided housing facility without relocating them to other areas.
Overview of Haryana State Government’s slum-in-situ rehabilitation policy:
i. As per the policy approved by Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Rs 1.67 lakh per dwelling unit will be provided to developer for construction of houses for these urban slum dwellers.
ii. Out of Rs. 1.67 lakh, Rs 1 lakh financial assistance per dwelling unit will be provided by Central Government, while Haryana State Government will provide assistance of Rs 67000.
iii. The carpet area for a dwelling unit constructed under this policy will be 50 square metre.
iv. On Government land, where slums are spread horizontally, the units will be accumulated by constructing multi-storey/grouped flats. The leftover land post construction will be given as free sale component to cross subsidise the developers.
Quick Facts about Haryana:
♦ Capital – Chandigarh
♦ Current Governor – Kaptan Singh Solanki
♦ Current Chief Minister – Manohar Lal Khattar
♦ Important National Park – Sultanpur National Park

Industrial production grows 7.1% in February 2018: CSO
As per data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on April 12, 2018, industrial production grew at 7.1 per cent in February 2018.
Industrial Production growth in February 2018:
i. Growth in industrial production during February 2018 came on account of robust performance of the manufacturing sector and higher offtake of capital goods and consumer durables.
ii. Factory output measured in terms of the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), has thus maintained high growth for the fourth month in a row. In November 2017, IIP grew by 8.54 per cent, followed by 7.1 per cent in December 2017 and 7.4 per cent in January 2018.
iii. During February 2018, Manufacturing sector grew at 8.7 per cent, capital goods output rose by 20 per cent, Consumer durables grew at 7.9 per cent and Electricity generation grew by 4.5 per cent. However, mining output declined by 0.3 per cent in February 2018.
iv. During April 2017  – February 2018, IIP growth slowed to 4.3 per cent as compared to 4.7 per cent in April 2016 – February 2017.

Union Home Minister launches e-FRRO scheme
On April 13, 2018, Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh launched the web-based application ‘e-FRRO’ (e-Foreigners Regional Registration Office).
Union Home Minister launches e-FRRO schemeSalient features of e-FRRO scheme:
i. Under the current system, foreigners staying in India on Visa duration of more than 180 days have to get themselves registered with their respective FRROs. Similarly, foreigners requiring different kind of visa related services such as Visa extension, Change of address, Visa Conversion, Change of Educational institutions, Exit permits etc. are currently required to visit the FRROs.
ii. By using e-FRRO application, foreigners in India would be able to get as many as 27 Visa and Immigration related services from the comfort of their place of stay, through email/post without appearing in person at the FRRO office.
iii. e-FRRO was introduced in four FRROs (Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai) on February 12, 2018. Now it has been rolled out in the remaining eight FRROs viz. Kolkata, Hyderabad, Amritsar, Cochin, Thiruvananthapuram, Calicut, Lucknow and Ahmedabad.
iv. In context of this news, it is important to note that more than one crore foreigners visited India during 2017 and out of them approximately 3.6 lakh had to visit FRRO offices for various visa-related services.

Hardeep Puri Launches Smart Imprest Cards & E-Measurement Book (e-MB) On PFMS Portal for CPWD
On 13th April 2018, Hardeep Puri, Minister of State (I/C) for Housing & Urban Affairs launched Smart Imprest Cards & e-Measurement Book (e-MB) on PFMS portal for CPWD (Central Public Works Department).
Imprest Cards & E- Measurement Book (e-MB) On PFMS Portal for CPWD:
i. This is the first integrated web based module in Civil Ministries to monitor and track both the financial progress – utilization of funds and related physical progress captured through e-MB of various works in CPWD projects.
ii. Smart Imprest cards with end to end digitization of complete process is introduced for the first time in Civil Ministry.
iii. Smart Imprest cards will enable to reach 100% digitization of payments in MoHUA (Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs).
iv. The Smart Imprest will be introduced in over 400 offices of Ministry.  Axis bank for main Ministry, SBI for CPWD and IDBI bank for Printing have tied up with MoHUA for this launch on all India basis.
v. A special integrated portal of e- Measurement Book module on PFMS has been developed by office of CCA (Controller of certifying Authorities) in MoHUA in consultation with CPWD which has been developed by PFMS (Public Financial Management System) team of CGA (Controller General of Accounts).
vi. This will enable online real time monitoring of physical progress of any project undertaken by any CPWD division in India.
vii. A Pilot run of e-MB module for all projects costing more than 15 lakhs was implemented in all CPWD Divisions in Delhi. It has been decided to launch E-MB module in all 400 CPWD offices in India.
About CPWD (Central Public Works Department):
♦ Director General – Abhai Sinha
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi

Provision of Aadhaar Act validating collection of data is ‘badly drafted’: Supreme Court
On 10th April 2018, the Supreme Court said that, the provision of Aadhaar Act that seeks to validate the data collected from 2009 to 2016 was “badly drafted”.
Provision of Aadhaar Act validating collection of data is 'badly drafted': Supreme CourtProvision of Aadhaar Act validating collection of data is ‘badly drafted’: Supreme Court:
i. The provision validated all biometric enrolments even before the law was passed with retrospective effect.
ii. The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act came into effect in 2016. But the government had started enrolling people under Aadhaar scheme in 2010.
iii. Section 59 of the Act deems consent in all pre-2016 cases where biometrics were collected without the backing of any law. Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that “Section 59 is badly drafted.”
Some important temples in India:
♦ Kedarnath Temple – Uttarakhand
♦ Siddhivinayak – Maharashtra
♦ Somnath Temple – Gujarat


Overview of President’s Swaziland and Zambia visit
President of India, Ram Nath Kovind was on an official visit to three African nations – Equatorial
i. Highlights of President Kovinds’s visit to Equatorial Guinea was the signing of three Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Equatorial Guinea in the fields of AYUSH and traditional medicine; medicinal plants; and an action plan for Information and Communication Technology.
ii. On April 10, 2018, India announced to donate USD 1 million to support Swaziland’s national disaster management agency and also expressed commitment to the developmental partnership to create local capacities in Swaziland and across Africa.
iii. India and Zambia signed four agreements viz. on double taxation avoidance; on mutual visa waivers for officials and diplomats, on judicial cooperation and on the Entrepreneurship Development Institute that India will build in Zambia.……………………………………………………………………………Click here to Read More

China launches cloud platform for its scientists
China has introduced China Science and Technology Cloud (CSTC) to provide scientists with accessible, accurate and secure data services to promote research and innovation.
China launches cloud platform for its scientistsChina Science and Technology Cloud (CSTC):
i. China Science and Technology Cloud (CSTC) has been developed by the Computer Network Information Centre of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
ii. CSTC obtains data from the academy’s research institutes and major scientific installations, and many Chinese top universities and private innovation centres.
iii. Applications are classified into 5 categories:

  • data resources
  • cloud computing with artificial intelligence (AI) and supercomputers
  • research software support
  • research community networks
  • outreach to foreign scientists and platforms

Some important Lakes in India:
♦ Largest fresh water lakes in Asia & India – Wular Lake, Kashmir
♦ Largest artificial lake in Asia – Upper Lake, Madhya Pradesh
♦ Largest saline water lake in India – Chika Lake, Orissa

New Zealand bans all new offshore oil exploration
On April 12, 2018, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a ban on all new offshore oil exploration permits as a part of her Government’s plan to transition towards a carbon-neutral future.
No new permits for offshore oil exploration:
i. The ban on new offshore oil exploration permits has been applied with immediate effect. However, it will not affect existing permits and onshore drilling.
ii. It is to be noted that existing permits cover an area of 100000 sq km and some still have decades left on their exploration rights. Thus zero-carbon economy will essentially take effect in 30 or more year’s time.
iii. Jacinda Ardern, who took charge after winning elections in September 2017, stated that her Government is taking an important step to address climate change and create a clean, green and sustainable future for New Zealand.
iv. She has also assured that the decision will not lead to job losses in oil industry, which currently employs at least 11000 workers and contributes $1.8 billion per year to New Zealand economy.
Quick Facts about New Zealand:
♦ Capital – Wellington
♦ Most Populous City – Auckland
♦ Currency – New Zealand Dollar
♦ Current Prime Minister – Jacinda Ardern


World Bank approves $55mn for Bangladesh project
World Bank has approved $55 million to expand the use of clean renewable energy in rural areas of Bangladesh that do not have access to grid electricity.
World Bank approves $55mn for Bangladesh projectWorld Bank financing for Bangladesh project:
i. $55 million has been approved as an additional financing to the Second Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development (RERED II) Project.
ii. Renewable Energy Development (RERED II) Project and additional financing will provide access to electricity and energy efficient cooking stoves to about 10 million people living in villages, shoals and islands in Bangladesh.
iii. Funds procured through additional financing will be utilised to install 1000 solar irrigation pumps, 30 solar mini-grids and about 4 million improved cooking stoves in rural areas.
iv.30 solar mini-grids will provide about 28000 connections to households and businesses, including small and medium-sized enterprises.
Quick Facts about Bangladesh:
♦ Capital – Dhaka
♦ Currency – Taka
♦ Current Prime Minister – Sheikh Hasina
♦ Neighbouring Countries – India, Myanmar

SIDBI ties up with CSC to promote MSEs in 115 districts
Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has tied up with Common Service Centre (CSC) to run micro enterprises promotion programme (MEPP) in 115 aspirational districts across India.
About MEPP and Aspirational Districts:
i. ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2018. Aspirational districts refer to selected 115 backward districts that are lagging on specific development parameters.
ii. Under this programme, Central Government has undertaken a major policy initiative for rapid transformation of these districts and senior government officials have been assigned responsibility to coordinate the efforts of the Centre and states in facilitating development in such districts.
iii. MEPP is geared towards promoting potential rural entrepreneurs by hand-holding them and also facilitating access to finance for such enterprises from formal banking sector.
iv. So far, 41500 enterprises have got support under this programme, which has generated employment opportunities for about 1.07 lakh persons, mainly belonging to underprivileged section of the society.
Quick Facts about SIDBI:
♦  Formed in – 1990
♦ Headquarters – Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
♦ Current Chairman and Managing Director – Mohammad Mustafa

RBI tightens reporting norms for Liberalised Remittance Scheme
On April 12, 2018, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued a notification aimed at tightening reporting norms for the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS).
 Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) and Monitoring:
i. Under LRS, all resident Indian individuals, including minors, are allowed to freely remit abroad, up to USD 250000 per financial year for any permissible current or capital account transaction or a combination of both.
ii. LRS scheme was introduced on February 4, 2004. At that time the limit was just USD 25000. However it was revised in a phased manner in line with prevailing macro and micro economic conditions and now stands at USD 250000 per financial year.
iii. Individuals can avail foreign exchange for this purposes within the limit of USD 250000 only, from Authorised Dealers/Banks.
iv. However, till now, Authorised Dealers/Banks permitted LRS transactions solely on the declaration made by the remitter and thus monitoring of adherence to the limit was confined to obtaining such a declaration without independent verification
v.With a view to improve monitoring and also to ensure adherence to LRS limits, RBI has directed Authorised Dealers (ADs)/Banks to put in place a daily reporting system listing out all transactions undertaken by individuals under LRS. These reports will be accessible to all the other ADs.
Quick Facts about Reserve Bank of India (RBI):
♦ Commenced Operations on: 1st April 1935
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
♦ Current Governor: Mr. Urjit Patel

ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank repository participants for NERL
National E-Repository Limited (NERL), a group company of National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Limited (NCDEX), has empanelled ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank as repository participants.
i.As per the agreement, ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank will offer pledge finance against electronic negotiable warehousing receipts (eNWR) created on NERL’s repository platform for commodities stored in warehouses registered with Warehousing Development and Regulatory Authority (WDRA).
ii.These empanelment will boost the repository ecosystem and will also be beneficial for stakeholders in reducing the turn-around time in processing the loans and marking the pledge on the eNWR.
iii.It is to be noted that ICICI Bank itself is one of the promoter shareholder in NERL.
Quick Facts about NERL:
♦ Incorporated in – February 2017
♦ Location of Registered Office – Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Promoter Shareholders – NCDEX, ICICI Bank, State Bank of India and NABARD


Jio, Sodexo join hands to accelerate digital transformation
On 12th April 2018, Reliance Jio and Sodexo announced their tie-up to accelerate India’s digital transformation.
Jio, Sodexo join hands to accelerate digital transformationJio, Sodexo join hands to accelerate digital transformation
i. Jio Money, the Prepaid Payment Instrument (PPI) wallet of Jio Payments Bank Ltd., has enabled integration of Sodexo Meal Cards with the Jio Money account of its users. This will allow mobile-based payments through Sodexo Meal Card.
ii. Hence Sodexo merchants in India can accept digital payments through Sodexo. Sodexo Meal Pass can be linked to the Jio Money app to perform quick payments.
iii. User’s don’t have to carry Sodexo’s physical card for shopping. They just have to add the Sodexo Meal Card balance to the Jio Money app and perform transaction.
iv. This scheme has been launched in Mumbai already. Jio Money solution will be enabled at all Sodexo accepting merchants in India very soon.
About Sodexo:
♦ CEO – Denis Machuel
♦ Headquarters – Issy-les-Moulineaux, France


65th National Film Awards announced, Late Vinod Khanna honoured with Dada Saheb Phalke Award
On 13th April 2018, the 65th National Film Awards was announced and late actor Vinod Khanna was honoured with Dadasaheb Phalke Award posthumously.
65th National Film Awards announced, Late Vinod Khanna honoured with Dada Saheb Phalke AwardLate Vinod Khanna honoured with Dada Saheb Phalke Award:
i. Late actress Sridevi has been honoured with the best actress award. The jury is headed by filmmaker Shekhar Kapur.
ii. Kannada film director P Sheshadri, screenwriter Imtiaz Hussain, actor Gautami Tadimalla, lyricist Mehboob are part of the panel which consists of a total of 10 members.
Some important wildlife sanctuaries in India:
♦ Papikonda Wildlife Sanctuary – Andhra Pradesh
♦ Sri Lankamalleswara Wildlife Sanctuary – Andhra Pradesh
♦ Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary – Andhra Pradesh


FDA approves marketing of first AI device to detect diabetic eye disease
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved marketing of IDx-DR, first Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based device to detect certain diabetes-related eye problems.
FDA approves marketing of first AI device to detect diabetic eye diseaseIDx-DR:
i. IDx-DR, is a software programme that uses an artificial intelligence algorithm to analyse images of eye taken with a retinal camera.
ii. FDA has permitted marketing of IDx-DR to IDx LLC, a medical device company. This will help detect greater than a mild level of the eye disease diabetic retinopathy in adults suffering from diabetes.
iii. Diabetic retinopathy is a common cause of vision loss in diabetic patients. IDx-DR offers a screening decision without the help of a clinician to also interpret the image or results.
iv. Doctor will upload the digital images of the patient’s retinas on a Cloud server in which IDx-DR software is installed.
v. If a positive result is detected patients need to consult a doctor for further evaluation and treatment.
vi. FDA has said that IDx-DR should not be used in pregnant patients since diabetic retinopathy can advance very fast during pregnancy. The device is not designed to evaluate rapidly progressive diabetic retinopathy.
About US Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
♦ FDA Commissioner – Dr. Scott Gottlieb
♦ Headquarters – Maryland, US


Ace shuttler Kidambi Srikanth becomes World No 1
Indian badminton player Kidambi Srikanth has emerged as World Number 1 in the latest edition of the BWF rankings that were released on 12th April 2018.
Ace shuttler Kidambi Srikanth becomes World No 1Ace shuttler Kidambi Srikanth becomes World No 1:
i.  Kidambi Srikanth has replaced Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen and become World Number 1 in the BWF rankings.
ii. He has become the first Indian male player to achieve this mark. Saina Nehwal was the first Indian girl to become world No 1 in 2015.
iii. Kidambi Srikanth has a total of 76,895 points in Men’s Singles category. In the women’s category P. V. Sindhu has secured third rank.
Some important stadiums in India:
♦ JSCA International Cricket Stadium – Ranchi, Jharkhand
♦ Birsa Munda Athletics Stadium – Ranchi, Jharkhand
♦ JRD Tata Sports Complex – Jamshedpur, Jharkhand

Germany top FIFA rankings, Brazil second
On 12th April 2018, the latest FIFA rankings were released in which Germany has secured the top position followed by Brazil in the second position.
Germany top FIFA rankings, Brazil second:
i. Germany has secured the top position in FIFA rankings with 1533 points. Brazil has reached second position with 1384 points.
ii. Tunisia has improved nine places and reached 14th place. This is their highest ever position.
iii. It is the highest position for any African country, since Ivory Coast obtained 13th rank in July 2013.
About FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association):
♦ President – Gianni Infantino
♦ Headquarters – Zürich, Switzerland


Jallianwallah Bagh Massacre Day
April 13, 2018 was the 99th anniversary Jallianwallah Bagh Massacre (also known as the Amritsar massacre).
Jallianwallah Bagh Massacre Dayi. On April 13, 1919, nearly 15000-20000 people gathered at Jallianwala Bagh, a public garden in Amritsar, Punjab. The gathering took place to celebrate the Punjabi harvest festival of Baisakhi and to protest against the repressive Rowlatt Act that imposed control of the press, arrests without warrant and indefinite detention without trial.
ii. Around 50 troops of the British Indian Army, under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer arrived at the spot and fired at the crowd indiscriminately for 10 minutes.
iii. According to British Government assessment, 379 individuals died and 1200 were wounded in Jallianwalah Bagh massacre. However, as per Indian National Congress’ estimates, more than 1500 were injured and 1000 died.

The National Safe Motherhood Day – 11 April
On 11th April 2018, the National Safe Motherhood Day was celebrated across India.
National Safe Motherhood Day:
i. India was the first country in the world to declare a National Safe Motherhood Day on April 11th on Kasturba Gandhi’s birth anniversary in 2003, on the request of WRAI (White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, India).
ii. On this day awareness is created on maternity healthcare facilities for pregnant and lactating women.
iii. The theme for National Safe Motherhood Day 2018 is: ‘Respectful Maternity Care’.
About White Ribbon Alliance:
♦ CEO – Betsy Mccallon
♦ Purpose – non-profit and non-governmental membership organization that aims to decrease maternal and newborn death globally